Mainstreaming it may be your best Choice

As a parent the decision to mainstream a child into a general education classroom is a important one.  It is important that the parent and student together are prepared and make the decision together. Once that has been done, then the professionals can get involved and help make the transformation a good move.

Here are some tips to help make mainstreaming a success for everyone involved.

~ Have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) established that addresses the mainstream classroom
If the decision is made in the middle of a time that is covered by an existing IEP, then a new one has to drafted, approved and signed before the student changes classrooms.  

Details matter in the IEP.  There may be adjustments that need to be orchestrated before the class begins.  The student may require an aid dedicated solely to that student. In most states, the general education classroom is required to make very few changes, the accommodation needs are handled by other professionals.

Do not sign an IEP if it is not going to be successful for the student.

~ Be realistic
Immediate success and acceptance are not typical in a mainstream situation.  There is an adjustment period for all  involved.  Be realistic and patient as the transition takes place.

~ Visit the classroom
It is important for parent involvement. Having a parent and child going to the classroom several times before the move is made is a good idea.  The mechanics of how the classroom is navigated will be familiar.  It will give students a chance to meet the student in a more protected environment.  A parent may be able to answer questions and explain the differences better than the child.

~ View the teacher and classroom professionals as team members
With a team atmosphere everyone is working towards a common goal.  Everyone has a vested interest in the success of the student and the classroom. There is a greater sense of cooperation and it simply works better.

~ Make adjustments
Each student and classroom is different and there will need to be adjustments made.  Keep up on things and do not wait until little issues become big issues. (Remember this is no different than any other student in a classroom.)

~ Know if it time to give up on a mainstream classroom
If a mainstream classroom is not working for the student within a reasonable amount of time, then make some different educational choices. The goal should be what is best for the student and that is not the same for each student.

There are many options for education. Be open to all the choices.

Sources:

http://specialed.about.com/od/teacherchecklists/a/mainstream.htm

http://tes.sagepub.com/content/10/2/58.abstract

http://www.hearingpocket.com/mainstreaming.shtml